Monday, March 31, 2014

Bobby Watts' Letter to the Editor published in the NYT

New York Times Letter to the Editor 

A Crisis of Homelessness

To the Editor:
The Sequester and the Homeless” (editorial, March 23) correctly portrayed as cruel the recent sequestration cuts for their “toll on crucial housing programs that are intended to shield the elderly, the disabled and impoverished families with children from homelessness.” In January, New York City’s homeless shelter census was 53,615, including 22,712 children — a record high. This is a crisis.

Modern-day homelessness began in the early 1980s largely because of a retreat from low-income housing. In constant dollars, the federal allocation for housing support for low- and moderate-income households was $77 billion; it was cut to $17 billion in 1982, and we’ve never again reached that affordable-housing investment level, with a result, you report, of only a fourth of families that qualify for federal rental assistance receiving it.

Ending homelessness is the right thing to do. It produces better health and societal outcomes. Over time, it saves tax dollars, too. We need to increase our federal support for affordable housing, not let it fall victim to mindless sequestration.

Executive Director
Care for the Homeless
New York, March 24, 2014

Click here for more on the Times' coverage of homelessness in NYC and our response in the past.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Join CFH and City Council in Creating a Tool to Help End Homelessness in NYC!

Jeff Foreman, Director of Policy
Tomorrow, Wednesday, March 26th, at 9:30 a.m. in City Council Chambers in at City Hall, Council’s General Welfare Committee is holding  a hearing on Resolution 123-A, calling for a rental subsidy program to assist people experiencing homelessness in moving from shelter to permanent housing. Care for the Homeless is testifying in support of the Council Resolution and it’s open to the public. 

You can attend and even testify if you want.

The Care for the Homeless Agenda to End Homelessness includes a working rental subsidy to fight homelessness. The need is greater than ever before. New York City’s homeless shelter census is over 53,000 daily and growing. Over 22,000 children are in those shelters daily.  The fastest growing shelter population is families with children.

Here’s our view:
  • Public policy choices helped to create modern day homelessness; better policy will help end it.
  • We can end modern day homelessness as we know it in New York City – but it won’t happen without a working subsidy, a tool, to help move people from shelter to real housing.
  • The subsidy is the right thing to do, it promises better outcomes AND it saves taxpayer dollars over time.
So what’s the problem?

In 2011 when the Advantage subsidy program was eliminated, leaving no subsidy tool to aid homeless families in moving from shelter to housing, the state added budget language prohibiting the use of state funds or state administered federal funds in a subsidy targeted to aid people experiencing homelessness. That language must be removed from the budget before putting a tool in place to help move homeless families to housing.

We thank Council Member Ruben Wills for authoring this resolution, General Welfare Chair Steve Levin for moving it and along with Council Members Gibson, Palma, Deutsch, Cohen, Menchaca and Johnson for sponsoring it. Thank you to all members of Council and the de Blasio administration for fighting for a program to help end homelessness.

We’ll be there supporting the resolution for “a State budget which does not bar the City of New York from using State reimbursements for rental subsidy programs for the homeless, and calling on the City of New York and State of New York to work together to create a rental subsidy program for the homeless.” 

Please join if you can, or call your Council Member to thank them.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Workshops explore the benefits of art-based therapy

The supplies were simple: paint, markers, colored pencils and magazines for collages. Using art to explore self-reflection, Care for the Homeless social workers, case managers and mental health specialists hosted workshops this March at several of our sites that serve specific homeless sub-populations.

“We wanted to focus on populations that don’t often get activities,” said Heather Garber, licensed clinical social worker. “In Manhattan, we worked with LGBQ homeless youth. In Queens, we went to one site that serves homeless seniors and another that serves homeless families with teens. Adolescents don’t often get activities geared for their age group. On Wards Islands, we worked with homeless men with criminal backgrounds.”

Homeless youth face additional challenges. NYC shelters only provide shelter beds to adults (ages 18 and older) or children under 18 with their parent or guardian. Many of the homeless youth we serve are street homeless or staying in precarious emergency housing.

The workshop connected peers to one another, sharing common experiences. "You're gonna be fine," said one homeless youth to another, as they created “selfies” with the art supplies.

Benny Rodriguez, senior case manager, shared: “Some participants expressed how they felt through society. I worked with a legally blind, transgender homeless youth, reflecting on how to identify in society.”

At the conclusion of the workshop, every participant shared the meaning behind their artwork, without judgment. Heather continued: “Therapeutic groups are not always calm. This was healing.”

These workshops were designed as part of a month-long celebration. Every March, the National Association of Social Workers organizes celebrations across the U.S. for Social Work Appreciation Month. At Care for the Homeless, we celebrate Social Services Appreciation Month. 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Care for the Homeless and New DHS Commissioner Featured at Baruch College Program

Jeff Foreman, Director of Policy
Care for the Homeless was pleased to take part in a Baruch College public education event last week. 

Bobby Watts speaks at Baruch College. Seated left to right are: 
Dr. Lance Freeman of Columbia University, Dr. John Goering of Baruch College 
and Department of Homeless Services Commissioner Gilbert Taylor.  
The program, attended by over 100, featured Care for the Homeless Executive Director Bobby Watts, new Department of Homeless Services Commissioner Gilbert Taylor and Columbia University’s Dr. Lance Freeman, a leading researcher and expert on homeless policy involving youth. Dr. John Goering of Baruch College, an expert on housing and affordable housing policy, was moderator and organizer of the event.

Watts used the opportunity to advance specific recommendations for the new administration. He cited the Care for the Homeless policy position that public policy helped to create modern day homelessness and “better policy choices can end homelessness as we know it in New York City.”

Commissioner Taylor told the audience he has spent his professional life as an advocate for children and youth, explaining “the opportunity to help children caught in homelessness is what drew me to this job.” 

Following the presentation the Commissioner graciously met with several Care for the Homeless client leaders who were at the program.

Three things that all four of the program participants agreed upon were that New York City is facing its homeless crisis without adequate federal supports, that youth homelessness is a very significant and greatly under-resourced problem in New York City and that a new rental subsidy program is absolutely needed to seriously fight homelessness.

Commissioner Taylor with Care for the Homeless Client
Leaders Ava Conner and Philip Malebranche.
Commissioner Taylor said he wasn't prepared to discuss details, but that a new rental subsidy targeted to aiding people experiencing homelessness is being developed. He promised a plan will be announced soon.  

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Got Medicaid? Your support ensures continuity of care.

Every year, Care for the Homeless serves over 8,000 homeless men, women and children. Last year, your contributions helped us provide critical care to over 3,000 uninsured clients. People experiencing homelessness face several barriers to being insured.  

Care for the Homeless provides critical medical, dental and mental health care, regardless of insurance coverage. Our commitment to providing care to those who need it most is unwavering. More than 35% of our clients are uninsured, and your support helps us serve the most vulnerable.  

We're often asked about the clients we serve and how the new Affordable Care Act will help the homeless in NYC and throughout the U.S. 

Under the Affordable Care Act, Care for the Homeless is increasing outreach and enrollment efforts. 

Medicaid enrollment can be life-changing for homeless individuals and families at risk of long-term homelessness. Hundreds of uninsured homeless New Yorkers received Medicaid cards through Care for the Homeless in the last few months, and we are working to enroll hundreds more. 

Saturday, March 8, 2014

On International Women's Day, we celebrate the sixth anniversary of Susan's Place.

This March, Susan's Place turns six!

Please join Care for the Homeless as we mark the anniversary of the opening of our 200-bed transitional shelter for mentally ill and medically frail homeless women in the Bronx. Services at Susan’s Place include transitional shelter for 6 to 9 months, meals, personalized case management, on-site medical and dental clinics, psychiatry, group and individual therapy, health education workshops and screenings, computer literacy, government benefits enrollment and advocacy, housing placement assistance, job counseling and self-efficacy programming.

Six years.
Over 438,000 nights of shelter provided.
Over 1 million meals served.
Since we opened, over 900 women have moved from Susan's Place into permanent housing.
Less than 8 percent become homeless again.

THANK YOU for supporting our mission and funding critical programs and services like Susan's Place.

Interested in volunteering? Please email us at or call 212-366-4459. There are so many activities--big and small--where you can help make a difference for the women we serve at Susan's Place and the men, women and children we serve throughout NYC.

Happy International Women's Day from Care for the Homeless!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Care for the Homeless Leader Bobby Watts Testifies to City Council

Last week, Care for the Homeless Executive Director Bobby Watts testified before the New York City Council assuring policy makers "with real commitment and the political will to do so, we can successfully end modern day homelessness in New York City." 
Executive Director Bobby Watts

Watts spoke about the Care for the Homeless Agenda to End Homelessness and how policies to fight, prevent and end homelessness would also save taxpayer dollars.

Watts also took the opportunity to thank City Council for restoring funding that would have been cut for services for people experiencing homeless in recent budget cycles, and recognizing City Council Chair Steven Levin for legislation he will be proposing to create a city effort to coordinate policies and programs affecting homelessness. "This is modeled on the federal InterAgency Council on Homelessness, that has been so valuable in improving national policy," Watts said.

Watts participated in a public hearing of City Council's General Welfare Committee which has oversight of the city's Department of Homeless Services (DHS). Witnesses included DHS Commissioner Gilbert Taylor, Manhattan Borough President Gail Brewer and other homeless advocates. In addition to Council Members those questioning witnesses included NYC Public Advocate Letitia James.

The Care for the Homeless policy agenda is based on the idea that policy choices were integral in creating modern day homelessness, and better policy choices can help solve problems and end homelessness.